TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 332: Apologies. Plus, Alli Harper of OurShelves

Biz and Theresa explore apologies. Is saying “I’m sorry” enough or is it more important for kids to learn from their mistakes and accept responsibility for hurting someone else? Can apologizing also be used as an excuse for not wanting to try harder? How do we know if we are setting a good example? Plus Biz is worried, Theresa solves a problem and we welcome back Alli Harper, founder of OurShelves.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 332

Guests: Alli Harper

Transcript

biz ellis

This is Biz. I’m a part-time working mom with two full-blown kids.

theresa thorn

And I’m Theresa. I have a family business, two young kids, and a toddler.

biz

This is a show about life after giving life. Don’t listen with your kids, ‘cause there will be swears. This… is One Bad Mother.

music

“Summoning the Rawk” by Kevin MacLeod. Driving electric guitar and heavy drums. [Continues through dialogue.]

biz

This week on One Bad Mother: Apologies! Plus, Biz is worried, Theresa solves a problem, and we welcome back Alli Harper, founder of OurShelves.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Wooooo!

theresa

Wooo!

biz

Theresa?

theresa

Yes.

biz

Before I ask you how you are—

theresa

Okay! I have to make sure that everybody remembers—

theresa

Yeah.

biz

New merch!

theresa

The merch, you guys!

crosstalk

Theresa: Seriously! I cannot— Biz: In the store.

theresa

—emphasize enough the new merch.

biz

I am a self?

theresa

It’s so good, you guys!

biz

T-shirt!

theresa

It’s—it—this is what everybody should have for the holidays.

biz

I agree! [Biz and Theresa agree emphatically with each other as they discuss the awesomeness that is Max Fun/One Bad Mother merch.]

crosstalk

Biz: We should just wear it— Theresa: It’s so good!

theresa

We should all be wearing them! [Biz laughs.] All the time!

biz

Even if it’s just nestled under a holiday sweater and you’re in there, like, washing dishes for like a holiday—it’s Christmas morning or it’s during Channukah or it’s during one of the eight million reasons people are in your house, making a mess. And you’re supposed to stay happy. But like—

crosstalk

Biz: —close to your skin. Theresa: Inside—yes.

crosstalk

Biz: It says “I am a self.” Theresa: You know you’re a self.

theresa

I feel like in contrast to the “Haggard and Broken” tee—which is also a great tee!

biz

Oh! It’s a good one!

theresa

That one I wear when I’m in a particular place?

biz

Yes!

theresa

And it’s really— [Biz laughs.] —good for that place. It’s really gratifying when I’m in that place. The “I am a Self” tee, I feel like is good for all places. It meets you where you’re at.

crosstalk

Theresa: You’re having a rough day? Biz: I agree.

theresa

You wear the shirt. You’re having a good day? You wear the shirt. It’s like, all the days can have this shirt.

biz

It is a good shirt! You can always cover that shirt up when you need to with a One Bad Mother hoodie! That’s finally arrived. And there is a bumper sticker— [Theresa giggles.] —that says “Honk if you’re doing it!” Which I am so excited that our show gets to have. One of those bumper stickers that’s, like, y’know, “Golfers—” y’know—

crosstalk

Biz: “Do it in the putt!” Or what—yeah! [Laughs.] Theresa: “Ass, Cash or Grass!” Nobody— [Laughs.]

biz

“Do it in the putt.” [Laughs.] So I am… very excited. It’s a great stocking stuffer. So go over to [drumroll noise]?

theresa

MaxFunStore.com!

biz

Theresa?

theresa

Yes.

biz

How are you? [Biz affirms Theresa as Theresa explores how she’s doing today.]

theresa

I am a little haggard and broken today.

biz

Oh.

theresa

We traveled for Thanksgiving.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

I just cleaned my car on the way here. Because it was so filthy and disgusting? That I couldn’t… I couldn’t—I—I actually— [Biz laughs.] —skipped my own shower today so that I would have time to clean my car. ‘Cause it was so disgusting. I’m very tired? We were healthy on the trip, which was great.

biz

That’s crazy!

theresa

Yeah! It was great.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

But outside of that, it was just like, sleep disruptions every night and just like stuff being crazy! Y’know? Just like, traveling with three kids! And… one of the hardest things was that my six-year-old, Oscar, gets really homesick when we’re not home.

crosstalk

Biz: Oh! But, like, even—with you? It’s not like— Theresa: He—even with me!

biz

It’s—it’s like—

crosstalk

Theresa: He wants— Yeah. Yeah. Biz: —literally the house? Okay.

theresa

He’s homesick for me at other points? [Laughs.]  But like… when we go on trips, pretty much—like, he’s excited to go on the trip usually, but within 24 hours of getting to the place that we’ve gone? He always wants to go home. And it’s really, really hard for him. And on this particular trip, it was like that times a thousand. Like, I don’t know what was going on with him? But it was really, really rough. Like, to the point where—and we were dog-sitting for some friends of ours. That’s where we were staying. And the house was really nice and the dog was really sweet and we were comfortable and we had space, and… it was—he was like, following me around everywhere, like, dragging his body on my body. Like, at all—it was so… exhausting! And I actually—I kind of fixed it, though!

biz

Oh!

theresa

And I was like— [Biz laughs.] —how do I—how do I talk about this, because it’s controversial?

biz

Okay.

theresa

I bought him a… Lego set. Like, a medium-sized, like, Lego set. From the toy store down the hill. And… the reason I did that was not to be, like, “Oh, you’re sad, here’s some toys”— [Biz laughs.] But I just could tell that, like, the thing he was really missing was… he really likes to have his time at home where he kind of goes to his space and he has his little things and he builds with his Legos and he does his, like, imaginary games, and that is like a very regulating thing for him? And like a very comforting thing for him? And he does it every day, usually more than once a day. And so when we’re traveling, he doesn’t have that! Even if he brings a few Legos, which he did, it’s like not the same? ‘Cause he doesn’t have his space or his setup. And I just… I—I said to Jesse, I really think we need to do this. And he was like, “Okay.” [Laughs.] Y’know that kind of, like, “Sure.” Like, kind of thing? And I just thought—I just know that this is going to help him! And it totally did. Like—

biz

Damn straight!

theresa

Yeah! Like, the whole rest of the trip! I mean, he did ask, like, “When are we going—” y’know, he want—he wanted to know when we were going home? But he also spent lots of time just sitting at that dining room table, playing with his new Legos and being, like, totally calm. And like, comfortable. So it was a game-changer.

biz

Nice!

theresa

And I felt good about that.

biz

I think you did a great job.

theresa

Thank you!

biz

Oooh!

theresa

How are you? [Theresa repeatedly affirms Biz as Biz discusses the current state of her life.]

biz

Y’know? Worry is a funny thing.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Where… you know you don’t have all the facts… about something.

theresa

Uh-huh. [Laughs.]

biz

And you’re not gonna get ‘em ‘til, like a certain day. And then… so you’re like, well there should be no need to worry, per se, ‘cause I don’t know—what’s happening is, about a week and a half ago, Ellis started, like, having… extreme thirst. Like—all night. Like, was—couldn’t sleep because he was so—he was going through, like… four or five of his, like, sippy cups? Of like, water. Like, couldn’t sleep; would wake up thirsty; and of course, that means you gotta pee. And then, like, during the day he was drinking a lot more, and so apparently—that’s a thing! That’s like a warning sigh. [Laughs.] Of stuff. And I’m like, okay. We’re going to the doctor tomorrow. But there’s, like, a whole weekend of ju—y’know, you just do the fucking Google search and then you’re like, okay. These are the different situations it could be. All of them… if it’s not just a random thing, pretty big life-changers! And game-changers. And… I’m just like… I was telling Stefan, I just said to him—you know what? I—and I usually don’t express my worry to Stefan because he’s very logical and is like, well, we won’t know. But I said, I tell ya—I’m a little worried. If this is indicative of something like Type 1 Diabetes, that’s a real—that’s gonna be a lot. It’s gonna be a lot for Ellis; it’s gonna be a lot for us; it’s gonna be a lot! And… y’know, I just was like—and I’m worried. Even though I have no control over any of it right now, and I’ve done everything I can do—which is make an appointment. Right? And so— [Laughs.] So I just was like… we’re—and I told him. I said I know my logical mind’s like, “Everything’s okay! ‘Til you know it’s not.” Right? Like… but then there’s the—

crosstalk

Theresa: Yeah! Of course you’re gonna think through scenarios! Yeah! Of course! Biz: —other one where I’m like—I fucking! Yeah! I just am like…

biz

I hate that thinking through scenarios, because the—it’s not helpful! I mean, I guess it could be helpful a little? As preparation? But like… there are a lot of times I’ve gone in with the “I’ve thought through all the worst-case scenarios” and it’s absolutely not. And then I always feel like, weird about it? I’m like, why did I spend all that time worrying about it? And… yeah! I don’t know. I’m just like—

theresa

So you’re taking him this afternoon?

biz

Yeah! No, tomorrow morning.

theresa

Tomorrow morning.

biz

So—tomorrow morning. It’s—time’s out with his physical, so we’re just gonna do it all at once. Yeah! So… worry. Yeah, I just don’t like—we don’t talk about it enough on the show. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Are you being serious—

crosstalk

Biz: No! I’m being sarcastic. Theresa: —Or sarcastic? Okay. Yes.

theresa

That’s pretty much our main thing, right?

crosstalk

Theresa: Is—is worrying? Biz: Well, yeah—

biz

—but I feel like sometimes worry—we try and like, counter it? Sometimes I think… maybe we don’t say enough—sometimes you have to just succumb to the worrying for a little while.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

‘Cause you can’t do anything else!

theresa

I think it’s also one of those things like emotions, where like the more you fight it, the more stressed out it makes you and worked up about it? So sometimes if you just like let those worries flow? It kinda runs its course?

biz

Yeah! [Biz and Theresa laugh.]

theresa

Y’know?

biz

Sort of like—Ellis’s bladder these days! Just running its course. A lot.

theresa

Taking fluid in—

crosstalk

Theresa: —letting fluid out. Biz: Taking—look at how your body works!

biz

In… with the new, out with the old!

theresa

Well, I will be thinking of you—

crosstalk

Biz: Thank you. Thank you. Theresa: —and Ellis tomorrow—

theresa

And I hope it’s nothing.

biz

I hope it’s just weird stuff.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Weird five—six-year-old stuff.

theresa

Dryness. Because—

crosstalk

Biz: Just weird dryness! Theresa: —it’s very dry here!

biz

That is true. I am really hoping for that. But if my worrying has caused anyone else to worry—I apologize. [Theresa laughs.] Which ties in nicely to what we’re gonna talk about today—which is apologies!

theresa

Mm-hm!

music

Banjo strums; cheerful banjo music continues through dialogue.

theresa

Please—take a moment to remember: If you’re friends of the hosts of One Bad Mother, you should assume that when we talk about other moms, we’re talking about you.

biz

If you are married to the host of One Bad Mother, we definitely are talking about you.

theresa

Nothing we say constitutes professional parenting advice.

biz

Biz and Theresa’s children are brilliant, lovely, and exceedingly extraordinary.

theresa

Nothing said on this podcast about them implies otherwise. [Banjo music fades out.]

biz

Theresa.

theresa

Yes.

biz

[Singing] I’m… sorry! So sorry! [Regular voice] I won’t go into the song.

theresa

Okay. I was enjoying it.

crosstalk

Biz: Were you? [Singing] I was— Theresa: I felt like—yeah.

biz

[Singing] —such a fool! I didn’t know that love could be so cruel. [Regular voice] You can’t start a Patsy Cline song and not finish. A Patsy. So you’re all welcome, or I’m sorry. Apologies.

theresa

Yes.

biz

I did not know there was gonna be a lot of… feelings about apologies? When I had kids.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

I was really under the impression before kids that if you hurt someone’s feelings, or physically harmed them in some way, or just do anything that is not nice, you apologize!

theresa

Right.

biz

I thought that was a good rule! Now, I have learned that some people feel differently! And that is a surprise. So— [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] I wanna start off talking about… like, kids and apologies. And I just wanna—I’ll be—-I just—yeah! I have raised the kids from birth; I mean, if they even step on the cat I’m like, I need you to apologize to the cat. Because I just wanna emphasize—and you guys have heard me on the show! I… will be the first to apologize if I have said or done something wrong. Y’know. It is…

theresa

And not a bullshit apology.

biz

And not a bullshit apology!

theresa

Not if I—I apologize if I hurt you. [Laughs.]

biz

No! It’s like—

crosstalk

Biz: I am sorry I hurt you! Right! Theresa: It’s like, real! I’m really sorry! Yeah!

biz

Even if it’s just one listener, I’m like—I hear you, and I’m sorry! That is—was—wasn’t my intention! And I—

theresa

Oops!

biz

Oops! Yeah! And thanks for letting me know so I can fix that!

theresa

Yes.

biz

Because… just like for my children, I want to know that I can… be responsible for my actions, that I can be wrong, and that it’s okay, and that I can learn from something. And that acknowledging other people’s experiences? Feels good.

theresa

Yes!

biz

Right? So… I think apologies—a-OK! Katy Belle goes to a school where they don’t apologize!

theresa

Right!

biz

When there’s an incident!

theresa

Talk about the rationale of that. Like, what they—

biz

I don’t—

theresa

You don’t know what it is?

biz

I don’t really understand it!

theresa

Oh, okay.

biz

‘Cause I feel like… I mean, I’ve read the policy. [Laughs.] And it’s—it’s very much about, like, working—I feel like if I understand it correctly, it’s about… trying to avoid the idea of a meaningless apology. That if two kids have an interaction, what’s more important is talking it out and coming—getting a better understanding of what happened, versus just saying you’re sorry and walking on. And I—I understand that. But… I want there to be a combo. Of that. And like… it was really hard for Ellis, in his first couple weeks of kindergarten, when people weren’t saying “I’m sorry.” And Katy Belle too! Just… was really having, like, “No one said they were sorry!” And I was like, “I’m sorry.” [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: So—Yeah. So wait! Biz: So—that’s—that’s—

theresa

A clarification on that, though. Do they not do apologies, or do they not make a kid say they’re sorry?

crosstalk

Theresa: Do you know what I’m saying? Yeah. They don’t say, like— Biz: I guess it’s that they don’t make—say you’re sorry. They don’t make them.

theresa

—you need to apologize. Yeah.

biz

Yes. However, I feel like—how do kids learn to apologize—

crosstalk

Theresa: Right! No, I know! No, totally! Biz: ‘Cause I feel like—

biz

I get the whole, like, I—ugh. The tediousness and like, the—sometimes the meaningless feeling. Of like making small children say [high voice] you’re sorry! You say you’re sorry! And no one—no kid knows what they’re doing. But… I think that’s the same thing as manners and everything else, where it’s just about repetition—

theresa

Practice, yeah.

biz

—and practice, and one day it will hold meaning if you are supporting it. With these things. So that’s—that’s where I am with the surprise of children and apologies. Where are you?

theresa

Yeah! I hear all of that! I think like… I think I probably fall like a little more on the side of… there might be other things that are more important with kids, to get out of a conflict? Than the practice of saying I’m sorry? Like, I can see how… there might be value in—if there’s a conflict between two kids, like, focusing on some other aspects of reconciliation? Aside from… just teaching kids that you should say I’m sorry. Like, so I can kind of… I can kind of get that part of it? I—that being said, I—I also think that apologies are really important. Real ones! I just think like… there is this way that I was taught to say sorry as a kid—or that I remember, especially at school? Apologies being? Where it was just like, say you’re sorry! And it’s s—like, sorry! And then that’s it.

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: [Through laughter] I hate it! And then they just go back to punching you in the knee! Yeah! [Laughs.] Theresa: And like— [Through laughter] And like it’s so weird—they run away! Yeah! Yeah, exactly!

theresa

And like, I remember a friend of mine who was like—who had, like, their kid at a particular school and I was, like, thinking about that school for one of my kids, and they were like, y’know, they really are working on getting better with their like conflict res—resolution practices? But like… we’ve had so much trouble with basically like really bad things happening? Like bullying type things, and then they would just have the kids come to the table and then just say they were sorry and that was it. And like… it’s—so it’s really—I think it’s like—it’s really all of it, right? Like, it’s really like—‘cause what I’ve noticed I do with my kids is I do have them say they’re sorry? But… my first impulse is not saying you’re sorry. It’s usually… ask them if they’re okay. Are they okay? Check on them! Are they okay? What do they need? Ask them what they need. So it’s like—it’s kind of like focusing on that part first? So like, uh, just like small conflicts around the house, it’s usually like—Curtis will take something, like, take Oscar’s Legos. And then Oscar will get mad and hit him and Curtis will fall over. And then Curtis will be crying and Oscar will say like, “Mmm, Mom, I did a [mumbling]”— [Biz laughs.] You know, and so I’ll be like, quick! Pick—pick him up! Is he okay? Ask him how he’s doing! Check on him! You know, like—and just kind of focusing on the caring? Like, caring for the other person and seeing what they need first and foremost?

crosstalk

Biz: Oh, yeah! Theresa: Um.

theresa

And then, like, after that… it’s like, making sure everybody hears—everybody gets their chance to be heard. Like, does Curtis wanna say what happened? Does—you know what I mean? That kind of thing. So that there’s a meaningful exchange? About what happened? And then I—if they do have a meaningful exchange and they’re okay, I don’t necessarily need Oscar to say “I’m sorry.” He usually does.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

But I don’t necessarily need him to. You know?

biz

Okay.

theresa

Like, I think it’s more important that he is remorseful and shows care and tries to make it better somehow. Like, we focus a lot on like, how can you—how can you make it better? Like, is there a Lego you can share with him? Is—y’know, what does he need? Does he need a band-aid? Y’know, whatever.

biz

Right. What do you do with Curtis for— [Laughs.] Initiating this crisis! No, but seriously, like—I loved all of that. Are you simultaneously trying to help Curtis—who’s really young and I know developmentally he’s still—but is there a place there for that understanding?

crosstalk

Biz: I mean—I know. Yeah. Theresa: I mean—I—I think it’s inherent. Like—

theresa

—you took this and you got hit. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] So I think he already learned that lesson? [Laughs.]

biz

Cause? Effect!

theresa

Yeah! Like, I think—and—and like I do focus on—since he’s—it would be different if—if it’s between Grace and Oscar.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

But like, between Oscar and Curtis, they’re three years and three months apart, and Curtis is not yet three, and like—the impulse control is just not—like, he just—and so I do focus a lot on, with Oscar, like, that is so frustrating and I will help you get that Lego back! Like, I am here for you. Because that’s so frustrating. But we can’t hit. Like, period. You can’t hit. So I do try to give Oscar that, like, on repetition, that understanding of like—it’s not okay that he took your Lego? Like, it’s not okay. But he’s—he’s not doing that, like, maliciously. He’s just two. Like, that’s just—and the—it’s the same for my older kids also have impulse control problems! So it’s like— [Biz laughs.] It’s that understand—it’s not just with a two-year-old! It’s the understanding of like, okay. That was not fun. We totally see how not-fun that was. Y’know? And it’s—and it’s—like, a million little decisions that we’re all making at every moment! But like in those moments, I just… I can see how… making someone say they’re sorry in that moment? Is like maybe less—a little less helpful than like walking through that process. Like, the other things that are going on in that moment.

biz

What’s great is that you’re teaching them what an apology means. You know what I mean? Like… because no one likes empty apologies.

theresa

Right! Yeah.

biz

They need to… to understand how to apologize is to understand… empathy, to understand mistakes, to understand… forgiveness! And… if you aren’t backing up those different sort of qualities and parts of it, then… it’s like, when my kids—sometimes, stuff’ll happen and… y’know. Katy Belle will be like—“I want an apology!” to Ellis, right? And I’ll be like… Ellis? Y’know, do you understand—we go through the whole [mumbling] you shouldn’t have done that, blah, blah, blah. Skipping to the apology part. And Ellis’ll be like, [sullenly] “Sorry,” and I’ll be like, okay. Lemme tell you how apologies work. You need to make eye contact?

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

And then you need to say it. To the person. Right? And… then that takes forever.

theresa

Right!

biz

Right? I’m telling you, fucking just look at her! Look at her! [Frustrated noise] Raah! And then—to, like, Katy Belle, I’ll have to be like—you also need to look? But without a stink face.

theresa

Right!

biz

Be receptive to the apology! It’s not like she—he’s giving you a dollar for a service! This is… if you want an apology, prepare to accept an apology. And that you need to acknowledge it. Right?

theresa

And then move on!

biz

And then move on! And then everybody has to move on! Yeah! They’re a lot—I— [Theresa giggles.] I think apologies are, like, very easy to look at as just a simple one-dimensional transaction? And if you don’t get them then you have been wronged and shamed? As opposed to, y’know… all these intricacies and nuances of really taking responsibility for your mistake. And taking responsibility for your ability to forgive!

theresa

Oh, totally!

biz

And—y’know, and accept the apology. Ugh! There is—I will—ah, I’m gonna shift to that. There is nothing—I find that really frustrating. When I watch—even grown adults—demand an apology or, just, y’know, point out that something is bullshit. Something bullshit happened to them. And then… the people who did such—said bullshit, come back, and apologize, but they just—don’t want any part of it. And I feel like that’s—

theresa

They just wanna be mad.

biz

Yeah! They just wanna be mad. And—but that’s different than… acknowledging this person who’s trying to change or admit their wrongness. There is a difference between us just wanting to be mad and be stinky about something, because of a million emotional attachments to whatever it is that happened. Versus… whatever’s happening in this individual moment of the wrong and the righting of the wrong. That always makes me wanna go, “Well, you don’t deserve an apology!” If you’re not ready to move on past it, what is the point? Of the apology? And I’ve had that conversation with Katy Belle. He’s gonna apologize, but—or your friend’s gonna apologize, or if you want your friend to apologize for something—are you ready to let it go? When they do? Like, what are you trying to get—what do you need emotionally from that apology?

theresa

Well, I think that’s a really interesting concept, right? Because I think the idea that an apology might not be enough? Kind of gets at this other work that we’re trying to do with them. Where… we’re trying to make it genuine enough, meaningful enough, and I think like give the person who’s upset a chance to say what they need to say! Would even be more important. Like, I’m thinking about a fight that I had with Jesse yesterday! And it was like, on text message, because he wasn’t there, and the kids were there and I wasn’t gonna call him and scream f-words into the phone— [Biz laughs.] —so I typed a million f-words into my phone—

biz

Hoo!

theresa

And I think now my phone finally understands that when I type “fuck,” I don’t mean “duck.”

biz

You don’t mean “duck.”

theresa

And when I type “fucking,” I don’t mean “ducking!”

biz

Huh!

theresa

And when I type “fucked,” I don’t mean “ducked.” [Biz laughs.] Um—

biz

Way to learn, AI!

theresa

Good job!

biz

Keep learning! [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah! And so, like, I was so mad! Y’know it took a little time for him to respond, probably ‘cause he had to, like, calm down?

biz

Take a breath.

theresa

Before responding—in an equally— [Breaks off, laughing.] [Biz laughs.] —intense manner. And… he did apologize. And… like, I’m thinking right now—it was a genuine apology. And… I—was grateful for his apology because I could tell it was genuine and that he heard me?

biz

Mm-hm.

theresa

But… I still wasn’t over it! Because I… wanted more. I like had more to say. Do you know what I mean?

biz

Oh, yeah!

theresa

Like I had— [Biz laughs.] [Through laughter] And so—and so, like… it’s just gonna take a couple of—like, it’s—was better later yesterday. It’s better today. But it’s like—it’s gonna take some time? And so—do you know what I mean?

biz

No!

theresa

To like—and some more opportunities to actually interact and like, clear the air on what those things were! And I feel like it’s the same with kids, right? Like, not—not—hopefully not with all those f-words.

biz

Sure! But I do want— [breaks off, laughing.] Fucking right!

theresa

But like, saying that you’re sorry cuts it off! I feel like in a way that’s unfair—

crosstalk

Theresa: —is what I was gonna say. Like if you— Biz: I agree. Yeah.

theresa

—just—if you—if somebody’s really upset and you’re just like, I’m really sorry, it’s a little bit like—well, thanks. Like—but that’s kinda—in a way it’s kind of easy to say you’re sorry!

crosstalk

Biz: That’s interesting! Theresa: Like, kind of—

theresa

—do something else! Or like, give me—or like, really give me a chance to talk! Or like, really offer to make amends somehow! Like—

biz

Yeah, I think the difference between what you’re saying and what I was saying with the, like, I’m just gonna be stinky mad and I don’t give two shits! Right? About your apology—is the… being able to vocalize that. ‘Cause you can be—it’s the old, like… y’know, my partner, my friends, y’know, never get me anything that I want; or they don’t know what to say. ‘Cause they can’t read your mind. And so… you can walk around mad that no one’s giving you what you want or saying what you want ‘cause they can’t read your mind, which is totally something you’ve created for yourself. Took me years to figure that out and I’m still working on it myself. [Theresa laughs.] But the—when it comes to the—the “I’m mad and I’m not gonna listen to your apology,” versus, “I’m mad; I hear your apology? But I’m gonna need more, whether that be time? Whether that be interactions?” I don’t need, like, Stefan and I have gone to this before, too. Where he’s done stuff, and I’m like… listen. I hear that you’re sorry and I do appreciate that. I’m still bent out of shape. And I’m gonna be bent out of shape for a while. And I don’t need you to, like, follow me around apologizing, ‘cause that will irritate— [Theresa laughs.] —the shit out of me. But I want you to be respectful of my irritation— [Theresa laughs.] —and at times, I may need you to communicate that you still understand why I’m upset! Just—it’s that need to be heard! And… like, understood. Not all interactions are about that? But that is one interaction—yeah! And I—which then leads us to… what example are we setting? And… y’know, maybe the example is not only apologizing—and we’ve talked about apologizing to our kids for, like—

crosstalk

Biz: —losing our temper— Theresa: Yeah. Like—yeah, yeah, yeah.

biz

Or like, forgetting to do something, as well as following up with them later. So I think that’s, like, one good example. But I think with how you interact—I have consistently told my children, oh, I messed up today! I hurt somebody’s feelings or… somebody reached out to let me know that that wasn’t okay and so, y’know. I’m constantly trying to remind them that apologies and understanding why you need to apologize and the benefits of that—for yourself—and for others, like, why that’s important? Yeah! I’m—‘cause even with my kids, they’ve done stuff to me sometimes and they’ve realized right away it was the wrong thing to do, and they apologize… but I ain’t ready to move on! Because it hurt! Like, it either physically hurt or it hurt my feelings and like… I think with kids it’s like almost even harder? Because you’re just giving—I mean, everything we’ve just talked about is, like, emotional labor that we’re doing all the time. One of many things we are… sacrificing of who we are to help raise reasonable people in the world. Right? [Theresa laughs.] So we’re tired and we’re exhausted and underappreciated feeling, and then they like—fight you or step on you or say something [through laughter] really rude. And… you say, “I don’t like that. That’s not okay.” And they apologize, and they’re upset because they had to see you—that’s scary, when you’re upset. But they apologize, and I can hear it in little Ellis’s voice that he means it? I don’t give two shits. I am so mad! I am still so mad.

theresa

I know.

biz

And… that’s—not something that a little kid can understand. You can’t say the same thing you would say to your partner, “I’m still bent out of shape.” You have to, like move on.

theresa

Yeah! We have to, like—

crosstalk

Theresa: —take some— Biz: We have—

theresa

—responsibility for who they are and who we are and what—what the dynamic is in that parent-child relationship and just—

biz

But that—I think that’s a good lesson for ourselves! If I’m pointing out lessons. If you can learn to accept an apology, understand where it’s coming from, and then… make yourself move on past it? That’s a good thing!

theresa

Yeah! It’s a good thing.

biz

It’s two sides! There’s two parts to apologies!

theresa

Yeah. I’m curious about, like, when kids apologize—or people—apologize for things that… they don’t—shouldn’t really be apologizing for? Or don’t need to apologize for? Like, we’re going through this thing with Gracie right now—

biz

Yes.

theresa

—where like, she’ll be like, “Oh, I’m so sorry, Mommy!” I like—like—she feels that she’s done a bad job about something? And I’m like—you don’t need to apologize! Like, it’s totally fine! Like, yesterday we were working on a craft—huh!

biz

Huh!

theresa

Huh!

biz

Who are you? [Laughs.]

theresa

I know! Um—

biz

Broken. [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah. [Through laughter] So broken by Sunday after Thanksgiving. Um—and I was working on a craft with her, and there was like some sewing to it, and she’s just kind of learning to sew. And it’s hard! And there were parts where, like, um, we were just troubleshooting little things? That are normal things when you’re sewing! Like, you’re kind of always troubleshooting little things, and—with every little thing she’d be like, oh, I’m so sorry! Or, like, if I had to do something she’d be like, “I’m sorry you’re having to do so much of this.” I’m like—you don’t need to apol—like—

crosstalk

Biz: It—it angers you! Yeah! It makes me angry. [Laughs.] Theresa: St—I was like, no! I was—it didn’t—

theresa

—anger me, it was just like—I was just like, wow! Like, do you really think you need to be that perfect? Like, you’re so apologetic for not already being perfect at this, and you’re—we’re learning how to do it right now! Like, you’re not expected to—and I think that’s a hard one and it reminded me of… when I—I must’ve been in, like, fourth grade or something. And… any—and like I had—I went through this phase—I remember my mom telling me I was going through a phase where I was saying I’m sorry to everything. And she just told me [Through laughter] at one point, “I don’t wanna hear you say that anymore.” Like, it’s not—like, do something! Do something else! Like, do a different thing! Don’t just say “I’m sorry!” Like, do something! And it’s not exactly the same as with Gracie? But it’s almost like this cop-out, like, “I suck! I suck! Okay? Just forget me! I’m terrible! Like—I—I’m—"

crosstalk

Theresa: “I can’t do anything!” It’s like— Biz: No, I think it is the same!

biz

Because Katy Belle does this! Katy Belle apologizes for everything. So… Katy Belle, can you please put your—like, right now we’re working on, like, you can’t just leave your plate or your snack—but whatever. Just normal—

crosstalk

Biz: We all live in a house. Theresa: Clear your place. Yeah.

biz

Katy Belle, can you get your plate? [Sighs.] “Oh, I’m so sorry.” And I’m like—no, just get it. Just get it! You haven’t done anything to anyone. I—I need you to get it! Or… y’know, yeah! It’s a—which then makes me feel like—‘cause it’s the same as what—all the same examples. Of what Grace is doing. ‘K? She apologizes for fucking everything. [Theresa laughs.] And it makes me mad, and… like—or—maybe or maybe not like you, I’m like, where is this coming from?  Y’know? Is that a meaningful apology? How does that affect really apologizing and understanding when we’ve done something wrong with what the difference is between harming someone and just needing to get something. [Laughs.] Right? And I then worry—oh my God, are we doing something? Are saying or is somebody else saying something to her? The—the—fear of perfection, like, anxiety? So maybe—actually, it makes me feel good to hear that, like, your mom reminded you of similar? Like, it really could be something that is a phase?

theresa

Yeah, just a phase, yeah.

biz

But we do the same thing, where we’re just like, this is not something you need to apologize for. Just… do it!

crosstalk

Theresa: Just fix it! Biz: Or say, “Yes ma’am!”

biz

Y’know! Yes ma’am is supposed to be your blanket “fuck you, of course I know I’m supposed to go do that.” [Theresa laughs.] Like that—just say “Yes, ma’am!” Or “Yes!”

theresa

It’s a little bit—I feel like it’s also a little bit of like a defense mechanism? Like—to avoid somebody criticizing you? You’re just like, oh I’m so sorry! Like, oh I’m sorry, I—you know—and it’s like, no. Just—it—if  I’m correcting you about something or asking you to do something—

crosstalk

Biz: You’re not in trouble! Theresa: Just—yeah!

theresa

I’m not saying there’s something wrong with you as a human! Just… like— [Biz laughs.] [Through laughter] Figure it out!

biz

Figure it out. Do something different, and apologize for apologizing to me! [Theresa laughs.] Ahh!

music

“Ones and Zeroes” by “Awesome.” Steady, driving electric guitar with drum and woodwinds. [Music fades out.]

crosstalk

Music: Chill acoustic guitar plays in background. One Bad Mother is supported in part by iD Tech. I would love my child to have a positive, healthy, and actual educational— [Laughs.] Experience on new technology. Versus just spending all their time in chat rooms. [Theresa laughs.] Do people still go on chat rooms? Maybe I’m not the best person to help my child!

theresa

[Through laughter] Whether your kids are interested in coding, videogame development, robotics, or video production, iD Tech can help your child build the STEM skills employers are looking for.

biz

iD Tech has programs at 150 prestigious campus destinations worldwide. From CalTech and NYU to Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong. There are courses for all skill levels.

theresa

So nurture their interests now with help from iD Tech. Visit iDTech.com/badmother today to reserve your child’s spot and receive $75 off! This is a great gift for the holidays! That’s iDTech.com/badmother for $75 off. iDTech.com/badmother. [Music fades out.]

theresa

Hey, you know what it’s time for! This week’s genius and fails! This is the part of the show where we share our genius moment of the week, as well as our failures, and feel better about ourselves by hearing yours. You can share some of your own by calling 206-350-9485. That’s 206-350-9485.

biz

Genius fail time, Theresa. Genius me. [Biz affirms Theresa as Theresa recounts her genius.]

clip

[Dramatic, swelling music in background.] Biz: Wow! Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw what you did! Oh my God! I’m paying attention! Wow! You, mom, are a genius. Oh my God, that’s fucking genius!

theresa

Oh my god. Seriously, I have a really good genius. This is like superhero-level genius.

biz

Yes!

theresa

So we were at a playground in Oakland where we were staying over the break, and there was, like, this old-timey kind of carriage? Like, metal carriage that kids could climb on? I’m not sure if it’s just a play structure or was actually a carriage at some point— [Biz laughs.] —or made to just look like a carriage? But it was about the size of a carriage! And Grace—as Grace does—climbs immediately onto the top of the carriage. And… there’s a little railing around the top that makes you think it’s probably okay for a kid to be on top of the carriage? Like, maybe? And so she’s up there playing and other kids are playing and blah, blah, blah and then it’s time to go, and everything is wet and slippery and she’s wearing rainboots, and she starts to step down and she thinks she’s—she’s just not being careful. And she thinks that she’s stepping on a flat surface. But she’s stepping on a curved surface. And she truly flips her entire body head-down. To where her head is falling, and I caught her around the waist. [Biz gasps.]

crosstalk

Biz: No! Theresa: As she was falling—

theresa

—off the carriage, before she hit the ground. I caught her! Caught her midair, mid-fall, headfirst off of this carriage!

crosstalk

Biz: Whoa! Theresa: Straight-up!

theresa

Like, Jesse was there. He was like, that was amazing. Like, it was like—it was totally amazing! And she was fine!

biz

That’s incredible.

theresa

It was incredible.

biz

You, mom, are a super-mom! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

[Through laughter] Thank you. [Laughs.] [Theresa affirms Biz as Biz recounts her genius moment of the week.]

biz

That’s amazing. Okay. So… this is just one of those, like, eh. Y’know, it—you need those moments where you feel like I’m doing a good job? I’m doing something really right? So, y’know, both of my children—lotta flatulence. They always have. Spoken about it on the show. It’s now Ellis’s season to shine. I have equally done the, like, “It’s your superpower, don’t be ashamed of it”—y’know, if you’re gonna do it, if you can’t control it, you might as well embrace it. I don’t know where this has come from, but lately he’ll say, “I pooted. It’s fresh off the butt.” [Theresa laughs.] And that is—that is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. It is so funny. But—so he’s saying that this morning, and he and Katy Belle are both doing, like, a bunch of just weird-ass shit to each other? Like, it goes from that to like something else weird to like voices and blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, get in the car, and we all get in the car. And then they both make these, very, like, confident sort of statements about, y’know, how being a weirdo is a really good thing. And I just sat down in the car and I turned around and I said, “You’re right. Being a weirdo is great. And just hearing you say that makes me feel like I’m doing okay.” [Laughs.]

biz

[Through laughter] It does!

theresa

I think it’s so great!

biz

I do too! I just am like—

crosstalk

Theresa: They’re proud! Biz: Yes!

biz

They’re proud that they’re just being a weirdo! Just be a weirdo!

theresa

I love it!

biz

I—I know. I love it too. It made me like really happy. [Laughs.]

theresa

Good. Good job.

biz

Thank you.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! I’m calling with a genius. My daughter is, well, not quite three yet, but um, being pregnant and breastfeeding—I dunno. My hormones went bonkers, and uh, I’ve got lots of hair. [Laughs.] And, uh, car tweezers. [Biz laughs.] Is my genius. I have a pair of tweezers in my car because usually it’s when I’m in my car that I touch my chin and I find these bristly— [Biz laughs.] —awful bristling hairs that I can’t stand. Thank you, pregnancy and everything, so. I left a pair of tweezers in my car! And now I can take care of ‘em wherever. So— [Biz laughs.] —that is all. It’s the joys of motherhood! Right? But thanks! You’re, uh, doing a good job too.

theresa

This is so great. I love how by the end of the call she’s like, is this even—anything worth? Oh well. I’ve already shared it. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

I—well, A, I love anything where somebody’s just like, “Car tweezers! That’s my trademark!” [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: Yes. It’s so good. Biz: I love it.

biz

Yeah! I also like the reminder that pregnancy does insane things to your body. You seem to have a reasonable sense of humor about it. Which I think is the real genius. And… kudos to car tweezers! Anything we can put in our surrounding area— [Theresa laughs.] —that makes our life easier? Is a win!

theresa

Really.

biz

Really!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Good job.

theresa

Good job.

biz

Failures!

clip

[Dramatic orchestral music plays in the background.] Theresa: [In a voice akin to the Wicked Witch of the West] Fail. Fail. Fail. FAIL! [Timpani with foot pedal engaged for humorous effect.] Biz: [Calmly] You suck!

biz

Fail me, Theresa!

theresa

I picked up dog poop with my bare hands. Because it was in the house and it was a tiny piece and it was kind of dark and I couldn’t see what it was and it was in the toy area? And I didn’t—I just got closer and closer and picked it up and then I went, oh, this is dog poop.

biz

Yeah. In your hand!

theresa

In my hand!

biz

Like, touching it.

theresa

Like, already—

crosstalk

Biz: Touching it! Theresa: in my hand—

theresa

—by the time I knew it was in my hand.

biz

Did you just want to make extra sure? Did you—did you give it the sniff?

theresa

No!

biz

Oh.

theresa

No. I knew.

biz

Huh.

theresa

By the time it was in my hand, I knew.

biz

You knew.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Little squeeze. [Laughs.] So gross! You are barely a person.

theresa

I know.

biz

I am so excited to share this fail. This may be one of the greatest fails I’ve—I’ve done? Uh, it is particularly poignant, as I am Team Banana. So, Ellis—this weekend—says, I’m hungry. Stefan says, would you like a banana? He says, okay. We give him the banana. And we peel—Stefan peels, like, it about halfway down, gives him the banana, and he eats most of the banana, and then he says, “I’m done”—and then—“And I’m also still hungry.” And Stefan and I both go, “Well, why don’t you finish the banana?” And we slowly peel more of the banana down and he goes, “There’s more banana!” And we’re like… yeah! Yeah— [though laughter]

crosstalk

Theresa: You keep peeling. Biz: There’s more—there’s more banana—

biz

—if you keep peeling! And then he’s like, okay, now I’m done. And we’re like, but there’s still, like, a—more banana! And he goes, no there’s not! And then we peel it all and he goes [gasping], “What?!” [Laughs.] He’s so truly surprised and we all—all of us look at each other and we’re like, did Ellis just learn that there’s more banana? If you keep—have we [though laughter] somehow—

crosstalk

Theresa: He’s been eating half a banana his whole life! Biz: He has! He has truly—

biz

—been eating half of bananas. And I’ve always just thought, hey, he’s done with the banana. But now I know it’s because he didn’t understand—

crosstalk

Theresa: That there was more banana. Biz: —that there was more banana.

theresa

Wow.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

Wow.

biz

Yeah. Wow. What a wonderful surprise for Ellis. [Laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! I’m calling with a fail. I’m not totally sure how I failed? But it definitely feels like fail. So I was playing with my kid. He’s 21 months or whatever it is now. He’ll be two in January. Um, and… he’s rolling around on the ground and then giggling, he was playing, and he came up to me and looks like he wanted a kiss and I thought, that’s interesting but okay. ‘Cause it was really cute— [Biz laughs.] —and obviously I’m gonna give my kid a kiss. So he came up to me, kind of open-mouthed, and instead of giving me a kiss, he—he licked my lips. Um, and I thought that was hilarious and probably, uh, not something he should do? But okay. So I was laughing and he was laughing and he ran away. And then I realized—uh, I had something in my mouth! So… I figure it out, get it out. It’s a cat nail. Um, my kid had a cat nail in his mouth? [Theresa makes gagging noise.] And he used— [Biz laughs.] —my mouth to put the cat nail in. [Biz laughs.] Um, so not only I guess is my rug really dirty, that he was rolling around on, but he now thinks that the way to get rid of things that he doesn’t want in his mouth is to put them directly into my mouth. So it feels like a sort of fail. So. Uh, thanks for the show! Uh, you’re doing a great job. I’m not so much.

biz

Yeah. No. It’s a fail. That’s—I mean, that’s like one of those, like, I was once a human being fails? Like, it’s like—I’m having a great time! I got a brand-new hat! And a bird shits on it and you’re like, ahhh, everything’s the worst! [Theresa laughs.] Uh, yeah! Having your kid kiss you and deposit a cat toenail in your mouth? Isn’t a good feeling.

theresa

No.

biz

Like a little squirrel passing on nuts for the winter. Yeah, no. It’s like a—just a weird, sad day. [Theresa laughs.] Can’t share that with anybody.

theresa

[Through laughter] Except us.

biz

Except us! Yeah. I’m like, you’re still a person! I’d still totally talk to you! [Laughs.]

theresa

We love hearing it.

biz

[Through laughter] We love hearing it and we love you!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

But everybody else in the world would probably, like, take a step aside. [Theresa laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Woo!

music

“Mom Song” by Adira Amram. Mellow piano music with lyrics. You are the greatest mom I’ve ever known I love you, I love you When I have a problem, I call you on the phone I love you, I love you [Music fades out.]

theresa

[Jazzy piano plays in background and continues through dialogue.] One Bad Mother is supported in part by Care.com.

biz

It’s the holidays. It’s like everything you have to do just got tripled! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Why not ask for a little extra help with Care.com! To help you handle all those everyday tasks, from dog-walking, cleaning, and who doesn’t need a babysitter over the holidays?

theresa

Care.com is the world’s largest digital marketplace for finding and managing family care. At Care.com, you can find care for everyone in the family, whether you need childcare while you’re at work or you wanna line up a date-night sitter, Care.com is there for you. Join for free as a basic member and start searching for great local caregivers. Once you upgrade to premium membership, you can reach out to them, schedule interviews, and even book and pay for care online, or through our app!

biz

To save 30% off a Care.com premium membership, visit Care.com/mother. Or enter promo code “mother” when you subscribe.

biz

Hey, Theresa! Let’s call someone today!

music

[Up-tempo acoustic guitar with choral “ahhs” in background.]

biz

This week, we are welcoming back Alli Harper. She—her—hers—she is a social justice attorney and community organizer. She served as president of the ACLU of Maryland during the marriage equality efforts, as well as on the boards of the ACLU of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Alli is the founder of OurShelves, a diverse children’s book box service and advocacy effort. She was also previously here on One Bad Mother on Episode 282. Welcome back, Alli!

alli

Thank you! And thank you so much for having me back!

biz

We—oh, well, we’re excited, and we’ll tell everybody why we’re excited in just a little bit. Uh, but first, I wanna ask you—what we’ve asked you before—who lives in your house?

alli

Well, there’s me, Alli; um, my wife, Jenn; and our daughter, Anna, who’s now six—actually, almost seven; and then our newest little one, Isaac, who was not, um, yet born last time we spoke, but who turns one tomorrow! Tomorrow, actually!

crosstalk

Biz: [Cheers, claps] Wooo! Oh my gosh! Theresa: Awww! Biz: Wha—happy birthday, Isaac! It was—yeah! Theresa: So it was like exactly a year ago or so!

alli

It was! [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! Well let’s just—maybe we should or shouldn’t have you on once a year? [Theresa laughs.] Just depending? [Alli laughs.] How—

theresa

Is your family complete? [Laughs.] [Alli laughs.]

biz

Yeah, if you’re good then let’s stop calling. That is so exciting! How are you guys doing? [Laughs.]

alli

Oh, we are doing great! You know, it’s been quite a year! It’s no joke! It’s been quite a year!

crosstalk

Theresa: Mm-hm. Biz: Yeah, it sounds like— Alli: It was a really special year! [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

biz

Yes it is. Because I have… a just-turned-six-year-old and a ten-year-old and I know that seven is something. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] So.

alli

Oh, good! That’s good to know. We’re entering—yes, she turns seven next month and, um, yeah! You know? Between her turning seven and Isaac turning one, it is just—you know? Parenting is amazing and humbling! Very humbling! [Laughs.] [Biz and Theresa laugh.]

biz

Is—is humbling code for “painful” and “sometimes shitty?” [Laughs.] [Alli and Theresa laugh.] Uh, because I agree to the humbling. Uh—

alli

It might be! It might be! You’re a good translator. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

biz

Little bit of A, little bit of B. Please remind everybody about what OurShelves is and does and why you created it.

alli

So in terms of why we created it, our two kids have two moms, and… we were surprised when we had our oldest almost seven years ago that when we had her, we started asking around for recommendations for high-quality, age-appropriate kids’ books that featured two-mom families like ours. We were really surprised at how hard these books were to find! And the second observation we had was that there were just not enough high-quality diverse kids’ books, period. [Biz laughs.] So OurShelves stems from those two observations, and so we launched OurShelves with a dual mission, and the dual mission is—on the front of—there are these high-quality existing books that are hard to find. Our mission is to connect those books to those seeking them. So the families, the teachers, librarians—we’ve assembled an incredible curation team who really helps to find these books that can be hard to find? But then also really critically review them? And then OurShelves delivers them to our members through either one-time gift baskets or subscription service. That’s the first part of the mission, but the second part of the mission—it goes to—there just aren’t enough high-quality diverse books, period, is the advocacy part of our mission. Which is that we really need to advocate for the many more diverse books still needed.

biz

Well, let’s actually—let’s talk about the advocacy effort! I would love to learn more about that!

alli

So the advocacy part of our mission has two parts. One aspect of it is that we are constantly asking our members and supporters who are still missing on their shelves in terms of which identities are missing and what kinds of stories are missing? And then we collect that information and aggregate it and share it with publishers. So that’s the first piece? Is we’re trying to share with publishers what everyday families, teachers, librarians—what we feel are missing on our shelves. And then the second piece of the advocacy is that we’re trying to prove the really significant audience that exists for these books. And I can share more about the actual data at first, which is just kind of an anecdotal sense of, y’know, everyone in our world across the country—our friends and families—were looking for these books and yet they were having a hard time finding them. But now we’ve done the research and we know that there are millions and millions of people actually seeking these books. So part of what we’re trying to do is also prove this really large, significant audience for these books that we think is currently underestimated. So when people subscribe to OurShelves and buy diverse book boxes, they’re not only connecting these wonderful books to their kids and cultivating their inclusive values, but they’re also being counted as part of the large market demand for these books. Which is—it is really important so that publishers kind of move away from pursuits—perceiving increased risk when creating these books? To actually perceiving all the opportunity that exists in creating these books. So we want to be able to go to publishers and say, not this—oh, y’know, did you know that there are very few books— [Biz and Theresa laugh.] —with characters with two moms? [Laughs.]

biz

Did you—did you know people who are making a conscious choice to not publish such things—do you—are you aware? [Alli laughs.]

alli

So we want to point out, y’know, do the educating of there actually aren’t many of these books being published by major American publishers—so first point that out—but then also to be able to then say, will you produce more of them? And not just will you create more of them, but when you do, we are going to be here to buy them in significant numbers. So that way, again, they perceive opportunity instead of risk when creating them.

biz

I gotta tell ya—that’s—like, the idea that you might not be aware or that—that you think there actually is—all—the—the only way I can conceive that that happens is that you see one or two books that have diverse characters—all that stuff—and you’re like, parents? [Laughs.] Like, review section, book section in the magazine or Family Circle, and you’re like—all done! While, like, I must have 20 books featuring like bears in pants that need to, like, figure out— [Theresa laughs.] —how to, like, wake up. Right? And I’m like— [Alli laughs.] —like, there—like th—and then I also have bunnies and I have like frogs and I have, like, all—like, so many! And— [Laughs.] I’m just like—that—I mean, I—‘cause I’m still surprised! Like, I’m still—like when I get a book and I see diverse characters in it—like, for example, right now, Ellis’s teacher’s been reading to the class this, like, chapter books? Very small chapter book series called Zoe and Sassafras. And I really like saying the name Sassafras. It’s a cat. And it—it focuses on science— [Alli laughs.] —but the main character is African American! And—but it’s like—that’s not mentioned at all, except the pictures in the book indicate that! Right? And I remember thinking—look how easy that was! [Laughs.] Like—

crosstalk

Alli: Yeah, right? Biz: That—that’s easy! Yeah. Theresa: Yeah. And also, I’ve—

theresa

I seem to remember last time you were on the show, Alli, you pointing out that books like that are sometimes hard to search for!

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.]

theresa

Because it doesn’t make a big deal out of the fact that it’s just a book with a diverse cast of characters, and it’s just a great book. And—

crosstalk

Biz: [Through laughter] You can’t, like, search up— [Laughs.] Yeah! Theresa: For whatever—yeah!

theresa

And so—and s—I mean, sometimes there are lists of, the, y’know, book, y’know, books that are like this, but you’re sort of… it’s not systematic. It’s not, like, you can’t just type into the internet what you want and have it all show up there.

biz

Right. Well, and I guess—

alli

That’s correct.

biz

—part of the goal is to make it so we never have to do searches anymore, because every book offers some sort of… diversity in it! Eventually!

theresa

That would be nice.

biz

Wouldn’t that be nice? What—

alli

That would be very nice. That would be very nice.

biz

Well, I wanted to give—before I get into more questions—I wanted to toot some horns related to you.

theresa

Toot away!

biz

Ima toot! Because—pardon me— [Alli laughs.] —tooting—the— [Breaks off, laughing.] [Theresa and Alli laugh.] We’re all 12 years old. [Alli laughs.] Uh, and—we were so excited to have you on the last time, because it was such a, like—oh! Look how—look how great that is! And what an easy way for all of us to like… participate in advocacy as well as—

crosstalk

Biz: —to get this and to stand up and be counted! Theresa: And like, stand up and be counted! Yeah!

biz

And do something cool! Right? Like—I can start a subscription. Right? Like— [Laughs.] Like, that’s—and I’m getting something out of it—and not only did I learn that Theresa’s book is about to be included in—

alli

Yayyy!

biz

—an OurShelves subscription, so let me encourage our listeners, if you haven’t started a subscription, let’s start it now! But also that One Bad Mother listeners were some of the biggest subscribers to your subscription!

alli

That is so true! It is—it is absolutely incredible. So after I was on your podcast last year, so many of your listeners signed up for OurShelves. And—and it’s been incredible, because over time, as I communicate with different members—when I’m communicate they write giving positive feedback or they write, y’know, asking questions and I say how did you learn about OurShelves, and so many people say One Bad Mother. And what’s incredible about this great group of people is not only are they completely supportive of our mission and so positive about the books they receive, but they are also just some of the kindest— [Biz laughs.] —people? Because as I mentioned in that last podcast I had mentioned we were about to have a baby. So many of them, in the weeks and months after we had Isaac, not only wrote about OurShelves, but also always mentioned—how’s your family doing? How’s the baby doing? Um, and now I’m in communication with so many people about new babies coming into their families—I mean, it’s just—I just wanna thank you so much for having me on, and, um, and thanks so much to all of the One Bad Mother listeners out there who are also part of the OurShelves community, because you really have been… really the heart and soul of our first founding year! As we learned how to do this!

crosstalk

Biz: Yesss! I love the community so! We do. Theresa: So cool! I love it! We do have the best listeners.

biz

We really do! Tell us about what you’ve learned in the first year! What’s come out of this first year? Have you seen an increase in, y’know, books? I—I gotta be honest, when you first came on I was like, I wonder how long this— [though laughter] This can go! [Alli laughs.] Y’know? Like— [Theresa laughs.] It—because there is such a limited selection and/or it’s incredible hard to find. Right? Like, it may be out there, but as Theresa and you have both said, how do you search for stuff like that sometimes? So how has this first year gone? What’s the response been? Uh, do you already see an impact? Tell us about it!

alli

So, I mean, I think the first year is really a reaffirmation of why we have this dual mission? Um, so, as I mentioned, y’know, the first part of the mission is us connecting these books to our members and—you’re exactly right. So Theresa spoke about what I spoke about last time, which is… why books that are sometimes less focused on the identity can be hard to find, and then there’s also the issues of some of the presses, whether it’s a foreign press or whether it’s a small press, just don’t have the marketing and distribution networks to reach people. So us serving that connecting role is really important. And so one example of that is… um, as I mentioned, with my own family type, it’s really hard, um, really rare to find a book with a main character with two moms from a major American publisher. And so we found—a book came out last summer from a small Canadian press called Nimbus about a multiracial, two-mom family. Beautiful book, exploring the beach together, by an LGBTQ author. Um, but this was kind of the perfect example of this systemic failure, um, that OurShelves is here to kind of address. So this was a small Canadian press, and the book was not being distributed in the United States. But we knew our members would want this, so we went up to the Canadian press, got the books, delivered them to our members; we became the first in the United States to deliver this book to our members. So that’s an example of… us—I think the first years has been a lot of learning? And—and having firsthand experience in—how hard it is, I think, we said it was hard? We knew it was hard from my kind of doing it every day, parent-consumer looking for these books? But now doing the work of the curating and distributing and all of that, um, that’s an example of how there are real systemic failures in place that prevent—families, teachers, libraries having access to these books that we’re trying to correct. But then, I mean, this goes to the advocacy piece of our mission, is also really important!

alli

And one of the things that we’ve tried to do is we are buying our books directly from the publishers? And trying to build relationships with the publishers. So—we could go to a distributor and kind of get all of our books from the same distributor, but if we can build relationships and communication with all of these different publishers—we’ve bought books from about 20 different publishers so far—I think that relationship-building is really important to the advocacy. So an example of that is—I was speaking recently to a Canadian publisher and they were telling me about some books that they thought would be good fits for OurShelves, and at some point in the conversation I asked, “And do you have any books that, um, include LGBTQ characters or families?” And they said no, and that was a moment of education and advocacy and action. We asked them, y’know, what would it take to get them publishing these books? We learned about their submission process; they said they preferred Canadian authors and illustrators, so I immediately wrote to the LGBTQ and other Canadian authors and illustrators I know and suggested they start sending manuscripts to this publisher. So I think there’s—y’know, there’s so many different aspects to the advocacy piece. Those are some examples. And then we’ve also just tried to be there—like, Theresa’s incredible book, It Feels Good to Be Yourself, we are so excited. I mean, this is such a special book! To be able to support books like that and extend their reach, or When Aiden Became a Brother, which came out in June—to be able to be there when books are first coming out and support them, I think, is also really important? Sending a message to publishers that we will be here when you create these books. But it’s been fun! It’s been really, really fun here in the first year.

biz

I—love you. [Theresa laughs.] Like, I— [Alli laughs.] As you’re talking, I’m just looking at Theresa and I’m either making a face like, “What the fuck, how are there not still—” [Theresa laughs.] —y’know, books in the United States representing the LGBTQ community? And then, when you say, like, “Oh, the Canada—Canada’s got it, but America won’t—” just— Ahhh! I’m—like, so I’m making those stinky faces. Then I’m making the like [gasping] Oohhhh! This is where you’re, like, asking! And then you reach out to the different communities to say “Get your manuscripts in!” I just think… you are doing… some good work! And like—I just want to say— [Laughs.] To anybody in the publishing industry that’s listening—‘cause I know we’ve got them!—connect up with OurShelves! If you’ve got books that you think need to be out there, or you’ve got somebody that you’ve—you wanna put out there but you don’t know where to start putting out? Ta-daaa! Here she is! [Theresa laughs.] I just think—you’re doing such a good job!

theresa

And also, if you need something good to get for your kids or—

crosstalk

Theresa: —somebody else’s kids for Christmas or—whatever you celebrate or any time of year— Biz: Yes! For Christmas! Channukah—whatever!  Yeah!

biz

Any time! Birthdays! [Laughs.]

theresa

Literally any time of year, ‘cause it’s a subscription! And the boxes come quarterly, right?

alli

Yep! They come quarterly!

theresa

Yeah. And my family has been a subscriber for the past year and we’re still—we’re continuing going forward and we have loved every single box that we’ve received. We have enjoyed all the books. So this is a really great way to spend your money in a smart and thoughtful way.

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah, you could even get a subscription for your school library! Theresa: At the holidays.

biz

Look at that! I’m like, actually, like, that’s in my brain right now. Tell us—all—how do we subscribe? And what are our choices?

alli

Well you can go to, um, www.OurShelves.com and you can, um, subscribe—as Theresa said, they’re quarterly book boxes and you can choose whether you want one, three, or five books per box. And you can also choose—based on the age of your child or children, and you can also get one-time gift boxes. You can always contact us; we’re happy to answer any and all questions. If you want to make sure you get It Feels Good to Be Yourself—Theresa’s book—in your box, um, because different boxes have different content depending on age—feel free, when you sign up, you can also just email us and we will make sure that book gets in your box. But yeah! We are so grateful to this community, and Theresa for creating her book and being part of the book creation process and for Biz and Theresa for, um, just holding this conversation. And for all of the listeners who have been so incredibly supportive for OurShelves in our first year! We really wouldn’t be where we are without you!

biz

Yay! Alli, thank you so much for not only all of your advocacy work—pre— [Laughs.] OurShelves—but being able to, y’know, focus—this is a lot of work. I mean, it’s not just… I—I think about, like, the energy and the effort and the work of, y’know, asking questions of the publisher and then reaching out to—say—for example, the Canadian LGBTQ—y’know, communities. Different communities and—that’s a lot of extra legwork! And I—I—that is so kind and generous of you? And… thank you for continuing to do this? And… congratulations on more kids in your house! [Laughs.] [Alli laughs.] And we just hope you have an equally successful next year.

alli

Thank you all so very much.

biz

Alright. Have a good—have a good one!

alli

Thank you! Buh-bye!

crosstalk

Biz: Buh-bye! Theresa: Bye!

music

“Telephone,” by “Awesome.” Down-tempo guitar and falsetto singing. Brainwaves send a message: Pick up the phone (When you, I call) Arm is moving now, no longer stone (When you, I call) Hand reaches out with a will of its own (When you, I call) [Music fades out.]

promo

Music: Upbeat rock plays in the background. Announcer: Dead Pilots Society brings you exclusive readings of comedy pilots that were never made, featuring actors like Patton Oswalt— Patton Oswalt: So the vampire from the future sleeps in the dude’s studio during the day, and they hunt monsters at night. It’s Blade meets The Odd Couple! [Audience laughs] Announcer: —Adam Scott and Jane Levy— Jane Levy: Come on, Cory. She’s too serious, too business-y. She doesn’t know the hokey-pokey. Adam Scott: Well, she’ll learn what it’s all about. [Audience laughs.] Announcer: —Busy Philipps and Dave Koechner.  Dave Koechner: Maybe this is family. Busy Philipps: My Uncle Tal, who showed his wiener to Cinderella at Disneyland, is family. Do you want him staying with us? [Light audience laughter.] Dave: He did stay with us, for three months. Busy: And he was a delight! [Audience laughs harder.] Announcer: A new pilot every month, only on Dead Pilots Society from Maximum Fun.

promo

Music: Dramatic, movie trailer–esque music. [The hosts use very "announcer" voices in this promo.] Mark Gagliardi: We interrupt the podcast you're listening to to tell you about another podcast! That's right: We Got This with Mark and Hal. Hal Lublin: That's correct, Mark! This is Hal. We do the hard work for you! Settling all of the meaningless arguments you have with your friends. Mark: So tune in every week on the Maximum Fun network for We Got This with Mark and Hal, and all your questions will be asked... and answered. Hal: You're welcome! [Music reaches an apex and quiets down.] Mark: Alright. That's enough of that. Chorus: [Singing] We Got This!

biz

So let me reemphasize. OurShelves. Uh, go there. OurShelves.com. If you are not already supporting them with a subscription—be it a one-time gift box or uh, any of the subscription packages they offer? This is an absolutely good time to do it. I am so touched and proud of our community of listeners for jumping on this, uh, when we first had her on. And I would just love to see that number of One Bad Mother listeners grow? That are supporting this? If you are a librarian; if you are a publisher; there are many things that OurShelves, uh, can offer.

theresa

I also wanna add that—for those of you who are looking for more books featuring two-mom families? That book that Alli mentioned, um, we have that book ‘cause we’ve been—we’ve been getting their books, and it’s called My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me, and it’s just an absolutely beautiful book. Like, my kids love it; I love it; it’s a really soothing bedtime story but it’s also got a lot of, like, nature and learning in it? It’s just—it’s a really good—I’m really glad she brought it up ‘cause it reminded me, like, it’s a really good example of a book that I would never have found or brought into my house if it weren’t for OurShelves, but now we get to enjoy this book. And I’m just very grateful for everything they’re doing.

biz

[Singing] Ahhhh! I actually like the fact that we are kicking off the high holiday season with some real kindness and awareness and gratefulness. I—I am okay with that.

theresa

Me, too.

biz

Speaking of things I’m also okay with—let’s listen to a mom have a breakdown! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi. This is a rant. I have two children and my eleven-year-old daughter is very… picky. Right now. And this morning, I tried to embrace her pickiness and allow her to pick what she wanted for breakfast, so I made her Cream of Wheat. And it came out of the microwave and she informed me that Cream of Wheat was not cooked to the consistency that she wanted it, and so the Cream of Wheat went into the garbage after several attempts of adding milk and re-microwaving it. And then for lunch, she told me she wanted ramen, because ramen is the thing to bring to school. And so I cooked up some ramen and I told her,  y’know, don’t put any broth in the hot—hot thing. Pitcher thing, and um, because it’ll make the ramen noodles soggy! No, mom, I just want a little bit of broth; they’ll be fine. And when she came home from school today, I said how was the ramen. You were right mommy; it was soggy. Threw the ramen in the trash. And then for dinner I asked her what she wanted and she said she wanted the leftover barbecue chicken pizza. So I heated up the leftover barbecue chicken pizza and I put it on a plate and I put it in front of her and she picked up one piece of the chicken and she said, “This chicken is dry and it doesn’t taste like barbecue”— [Biz laughs.] —and so for the third time today, I threw a meal in the garbage for my eleven-year-old child. I have just had it with her being unhappy and just unable to do—be pleased. And I… felt like I needed to rant about it. And so… here I am. Thanks for this hotline, and uh, you’re doing a great job. Bye!

biz

You’re doing a good job.

theresa

Mm-hm!

biz

This is one of those—I—I—I mean, I like and don’t like this call. [Laughs.] Right? Like, because… one, we think pickiness ends someday. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] And—horror upon horror!—it might not! And that’s, like— [Sighs.] What a thing to, like, have to live with! [Laughs.] Have to live with when you’re trying all the things you can to, like, be accommodating! Right? And… then there’s that feeling of, “Uh, I ain’t gonna put any—” I mean, I don’t know. My feeling would’ve been like… here’s your empty plate. Right? But some of us may not wanna teach lessons to our children like that either! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] It’s so frustrating. It’s so… it—we’ve talked about this with younger children, about how it ties into like our guilt of—I can’t feed my kid; I’m—my job is just supposed to feed my kid, and not… y’know, I-I—uh, that guilt, plus, oh yeah. When you’re making lunches and making dinners and making breakfasts all the fucking time, and in char—maybe you’re president of the grocery shopping! Yeah, there are days I do not like throwing—I don’t ever like throwing food away? But… it can touch a nerve.

crosstalk

Theresa: I don’t like making the food, and so the fact that it gets— Biz: I don’t even like making the food! Yeah!

theresa

—not eaten—

biz

Is insulting! [Laughs.]

theresa

Is really rough. Really, really rough.

biz

‘Cause it’s—I feel like—it’s definitely one of those things where if you are an outsider listening or seeing this, it l—it is definitely a, “Well, I could fix that.” Like, where are you supposed to go with this? Because… you— [Sighs.] It’s just a lot! No one wants to hear their kid doing this! Right? And—especially when you’re like, well, what am I supposed to do to fix this, when—maybe nothing! Because maybe your kid’s just really picky and going through a phase where they’re talking like, y’know, like, this is what they— [though laughter] sound like currently. And that’s hard. I—I’m just—

theresa

Or—or the response is, like, well—then—then—then, fine! She doesn’t eat anything and it’s up to her to, like, fend for herself! But like, that? [Biz makes frustrated noise.] That doesn’t—

crosstalk

Biz: It’s tricky! Theresa: That doesn’t acknowledge—

theresa

—number one, harm has still been done. You still feel like crap because you still prepped food that got—went into the trash. Secondly, like, a lot of our kids are not making healthy choices? And so we kind of do still need to be involved, and if you just let your kid fend for yourself—I mean, at—at a certain point, sure, maybe you will just for your own mental health. But like, it doesn’t solve the problem to say, fine, you can just have cheerios for dinner. [Biz laughs.] Like, you don’t feel good at that point.

biz

Exactly!

theresa

Uh, yeah.

biz

Yeah! I think that that is a… the main point.

crosstalk

Theresa: I also— Biz: To suggest here.

theresa

I just wanna share that I like that you used the hotline? In the—in such a precisely perfect way.

biz

Yes!

theresa

This is one of those things that only we— [Laughs.] Parents will understand. And that it’s so easy to be judged about? Or just have people say, I don’t wanna hear this. Why—why would you be telling—this isn’t anything! And we know that it’s something!

biz

Oh, it’s something! And we know that this is—that you’re not failing!

crosstalk

Biz: Right, like we know that you’re amazing! Theresa: No! We know that you’re amazing! Yeah!

biz

And this is a thing that’s happening in your house, and it sucks. On multiple levels, and we understand! And we do not judge! There is no judging. I think you’re doing an amazing job!

theresa

I do, too.

biz

You are.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Okay? Theresa, what did we learn today? We learned that apologizing may have more to it than just saying, “I’m sorry.” Or a Patsy Cline song. It also… reminded me, uh, how much work we do every day. As parents. Because I think there is, like, like you were saying, yes, the—yes, yes, yes, guys! Apology—I think apologies are important. I have one foot in old-school and one foot in new-school. You say you’re sorry, you look somebody in the eye you accept that apology, but the moving on? And the why are we apologizing, and acknowledging, and accepting that sometimes we do things that hurt others and that we can learn from that and all the feelings that surround both sides of the apology are really important. And… and require… ugh. Ugh. Work!

theresa

A lotta work.

biz

Oh, god, it’s so much work! I am so [though laughter] tired of work! I do not wanna work. Anymore.

theresa

It’s not an excuse to do a bad job.

biz

Right.

theresa

Is like—I feel like something we’ve been dancing around?

biz

Yeah.

theresa

That is really, like, key to this. Right? It’s like—we are human, so we do make mistakes! And apologizing is a helpful part of the healing process after we make those mistakes. But then, we kinda need to show good faith? And try again and try harder. [Biz laughs.] Like, if somebody just does the same thing over and over and over again and they just keep apologizing, that apology means absolutely nothing! [Laughs.] By like, the third or fourth time! It’s done! We’re done here! [Biz laughs.]

biz

Yeah!

theresa

So.

biz

Exactly!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Ugh. We also learned that diversity is good! [Theresa laughs.] That was a dumb thing to have to learn. Big surprise!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Everybody is doing a really good job! And it’s a time of the year when everybody’s got a lot going on.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Lot of things that are triggering. A lot of things that aren’t happy. A lot of things that maybe are so happy we’re stressing ourselves out. Everybody is walking around with a lot, and… just like with what we take away from speaking with somebody like Alli Harper, about… how easy it is to just assume these things are already out there—it is really easy to assume that everybody’s having the same day that we’re having. And… it—that’s just not true. And that everybody’s kids are different.

theresa

Yes.

biz

And I feel like this is something we don’t talk about enough either. Your kids are different than someone else’s kids. And vice-versa. And… that accepting that and seeing that and really… using that as a mantra? I think… really helps us get through our interactions out in the world as well as beating ourselves up, or giving a side-eye to somebody else we don’t know? So let’s just… try to be fucking nice to each other, everybody.

theresa

Yeah! Let’s be generous with our assumptions.

biz

Yes! You guys—you’re doing an amazing job?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

I—I mean, for real.

theresa

Yes!

biz

And I see you. Theresa sees you. We see you! You’ve got this! You’re doing it! No matter how great or shitty it is. You’re fucking doing it. Theresa?

theresa

Yes.

biz

You are doing… a really remarkable job. [Biz laughs.]

theresa

[Through laughter] Thanks, Biz. So are you.

biz

Thank you. We will talk to you guys—next week!

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Byeee!

music

“Mama Blues” by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Strumming acoustic guitar with harmonica and lyrics. I got the lowdown momma blues Got the the lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues The lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues Got the lowdown momma blues You know that’s right. [Music fades somewhat, plays in background of dialogue.]

biz

We’d like to thank MaxFun; our producer, Hannah Smith; our husbands, Stefan Lawrence and Jesse Thorn; our perfect children, who provide us with inspiration to say all these horrible things; and of course, you, our listeners. To find out more about the songs you heard on today’s podcast and more about the show, please go to MaximumFun.org/onebadmother. For information about live shows, our book and press, please check out OneBadMotherPodcast.com.

theresa

One Bad Mother is a member of the Maximum Fun family of podcasts. To support the show go to MaximumFun.org/donate. [Music continues for a while before fading out.]

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

One Bad Mother is a comedy podcast hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. We aren’t all magical vessels!

Join us every week as we deal with the thrills and embarrassments of motherhood and strive for less judging and more laughing.

Call in your geniuses and fails: 206-350-9485. For booking and guest ideas, please email onebadmother@maximumfun.org. To keep up with One Bad Mother on social media, follow @onebadmothers on Twitter and Instagram.

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